And the angel of the Lord spoke to Philip, saying, Arise, and go toward the south to the way that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza…
I. THOSE WHO WATCH FOR PROVIDENTIAL OPPORTUNITIES WILL FIND THAT PROVIDENCE IS WATCHING FOR THEM. There was a chance of saving a fellow-man down in the desert; God offered it to this Christian preacher (Acts 8:26). If a man's heart is alert, and his temper willing, some sort of an "angel" will be discovered looking for him for a good work.
II. NO SELF-SACRIFICE IS TO BE CONSIDERED TOO GREAT WHEN A SOUL IS TO RE SAVED. Here we find Philip starting out cheerfully to go sixty or seventy miles for a foreign convert (ver. 27).
III. God's kingdom of providence is subordinate to God's kingdom of grace. Philip could not have known where he was going, except in a general way. Two persons might pass each other a hundred times in the trackless journey, and never know it. It was like starting out on the ocean to meet a ship, when nobody could tell the exact line of sailing. But Divine foreknowledge understood where the eunuch would be, and Divine sovereignty ordered that Philip should meet the traveller out in the sands, for the Divine purpose was to save that soul.
IV. GOOD MEN ARE TO BE FOUND SOMETIMES IN THE UNLIKELIEST PLACES. It is a great surprise to us to discover in this officer of an Egyptian queen a proselyte to the ancient religion. So we are told that Christ, even in "Caesar's household," had saints (Philippians 4:22). And we have a record of one Christian in Herod's family (Luke 8:3).
V. IT IS WORTH WHILE TO PUT FORTH A CREDITABLE MEASURE OF EFFORT TO ATTEND CHURCH. In the kingdom of God, "not many noble are called" (1 Corinthians 1:26-29), and whenever one out of those high ranks is visited by Divine grace, it is best to look up the man's record somewhat. It offers a most suggestive comment on the laggardness of some Christian people, when we find this African stranger putting forth such supreme endeavours in order to render his spiritual obedience unto God as best he knew how.
VI. ONE MAY GO THROUGH A MOST EXTRAORDINARY SEASON OF THE LOFTIEST RELIGIOUS PRIVILEGE AND YET REMAIN UNENLIGHTENED. When we recall the unusual history which had been transpiring, we cannot help thinking how much had happened calculated to arrest both the mind and the heart of such a foreigner in Jerusalem. But even silent sorrow under the shadows of Calvary will not save a soul from death, just by itself. It is possible for one to pass through a whole revival of religion serious and sympathetic, and still remain unregenerate.
VII. RELIGIOUS CONVICTIONS ARE SIMPLY INESTIMABLE. The eunuch journeyed across the known world in fatiguing travel in order to find peace in the worship of the true God. He is going home, his soul not at rest. Still, though disappointed, he clings to his purpose; he shouts aloud, like the little schoolboys in Ethiopian schools, the verses of that pathetic old chapter in Isaiah, till Philip hears him and conies to his help (ver. 29, 30). There is nothing like that impressive moment in which an aroused soul begins to ask, "What must I do to be saved?" If, in that crisis, those gracious feelings are stifled, or suffered to pass away, they may never arise again.
VIII. HOW UNRIGHTEOUS ARE THE MODERN SNEERS ABOUT CREEDS AND COMMENTARIES! We wonder what the eunuch could have done without that good deacon coming up.
IX. IT IS ALWAYS BEST TO BE BOLD, BUT ALSO TO BE POLITE, IN OFFERING TRUTH TO INQUIRERS. Philip was unabashed, but you will look in vain for any discourtesy in his action. When "the Spirit" says, "Go near," it is safe to approach any one in the name of Christ (ver. 29). The Lord will never set a timid Christian at the task of speaking to a nabob or a politician like this, without going beforehand and, as it were, clearing the way of access.
X. SO WE SEE WHAT CAN BE DONE WITH AN AUDIENCE OF ONLY ONE. Dean Swift is said to have made a joke of it: "Dearly beloved Roger [his clerk], the Scripture moveth us." Lyman Beecher is said to have preached his sermon right along, and his one hearer was converted. Jesus Christ gave almost all His supreme revelations to audiences of one, like Nicodemus, and the woman at the well.
(C. S. Robinson, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: And the angel of the Lord spake unto Philip, saying, Arise, and go toward the south unto the way that goeth down from Jerusalem unto Gaza, which is desert.